OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Catholic School Board is reviewing thousands of applications for classroom supervisors to help cover possible teacher shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ottawa's second largest school board announced Tuesday afternoon it was accepting applications for "classroom supervisors" as all school boards in Ottawa deal with a shortage of occasional teachers.

By 5 p.m. Wednesday, the board had received thousands of applications and removed the job posting from the website.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board said on a daily basis, there has not been enough occasional teachers or qualified teachers to cover all of the classes due to a teacher shortage. "Classroom supervisors" would be unqualified individuals who are called upon when all other options are not available to cover classrooms.

"It's meant to be for emergencies, and with COVID-19 we may find ourselves in that position," said Tom D'Amico, Ottawa Catholic School Board Director of Education.

"We've had classroom supervisors for many years, this is not new to us, it's just the numbers are increasing. When you have a hotspot like Ottawa, or Peel, or Toronto, it makes it even more difficult to get people to come in and take those jobs."

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron, D'Amico said the Ottawa Catholic School Board was being proactive to develop a list of classroom supervisors.

"We're being prudent and being proactive in case we need more classroom supervisors, we want to have a nice list available for our principals that they can call," said D'Amico.

"We cover a fair distance from Stittsville to Orleans, so we also want to make sure if it's needed in one particular area in the city we're ready to deploy classroom supervisors as a last case scenario."

D'Amico says the Ottawa Catholic School Board has approximately 2,700 teachers, and about eight per cent of teachers are absent on a daily basis.

D'Amico says an unqualified classroom supervisor covering a classroom would be a "last case solution" to cover classes. The Ottawa Catholic School Board has 1,400 people on their occasional teacher list.

"We don't start looking for an unqualified or classroom supervisor until the morning of. We let our automated system try and reach as many people as possible," Said D'Amico.

"The morning the principal arrives to the school one hour before the day starts, they'll check to see if there's any jobs that haven't been picked up."

D'Amico adds, "So let's say a Grade 3 class didn't get coverage that evening, the principal will start by taking a qualified teacher from their school. It could be a resource teacher, it could be a vice-principal, it could be a teacher-librarian, they'll put them in the class and they'll continue to try and find a solution."

"When there are no other solutions, then they'll call someone from that list of unqualified, which are classroom supervisors."

The "classroom supervisors" would be there to supervise the students in the class and follow the lesson plan left by the teacher.

Last month, the Conseil des ecoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) said it was facing a major teacher shortage and appealed for help from the public to cover classes.

"For this reason, the CECCE appeals to the community to come and lend a hand to the school in its neighbourhood for student supervision tasks."